Justice Ranjan Gogoi was Thursday appointed as the 46th Chief Justice of India, according to the Law Ministry. He would assume office on October 3 after present incumbent Dipak Misra retires a day before. Justice Gogoi will have a tenure of a little over 13 months and would retire on November 17, 2019. President Ramnath Kovind signed warrants of appointment of Justice Gogoi following which a notification announcing his appointment was issued.
Born on November 18, 1954, Justice Gogoi was enrolled as an advocate in 1978. He practised in the Gauhati High Court on constitutional, taxation and company matters. He was appointed as a permanent judge of the Gauhati High Court on February 28, 2001. On September 9, 2010, he was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was appointed as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 12, 2011 and then a judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012.
Justice Misra had earlier this month recommended Justice Gogoi as his successor as per established practice of naming the senior-most judge after the CJI for the post. Speculation over Justice Gogoi’s appointment as the next CJI arose after the court’s four most senior judges, including Justice Gogoi, called a press conference in January and criticised Justice Misra on various issues, especially the manner of allocation of cases to certain benches.
Justices J Chelameswar (since retired), Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph were the others who addressed the press conference, perhaps a first in the history of the Indian judiciary. According to the Memorandum of Procedure, which governs the appointment of members of the higher judiciary, “appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office”.
It stipulates that the law minister will, at an appropriate time, seek the recommendation of the outgoing chief justice of India for the appointment of a successor. Under this process, after receiving the CJI’s recommendation, the law minister puts it before the prime minister who advises the president on the matter. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently said the government’s intention on the appointment of the next chief justice of India should not be questioned. He had also said the executive will take a call when the incumbent names the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as his successor as per convention.
Prasad was responding to a question at the Law Ministry’s annual press conference on whether the government would follow laid-down conventions and procedures to appoint Justice Gogoi as Justice Misra’s successor. “The question is imaginary…as far as the appointment of the Chief Justice of India is concerned, the convention is clear…the sitting chief justice names the senior-most judge (of the top court) as his successor. When the name comes to us, we will discuss it,” he had said.